Paula Swenson

What Would YOU do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

In Art and Creativity, Business on July 16, 2009 at 11:43 am

This question has come into my life in at least 3 different forms in the past 15 days. It is not a new question, I have encountered it before, however recently I have not been able to answer it. I’m not normally a person who has difficulty making decisions. In fact, most of my friends and family consider me not only decisive, but downright impetuous! So I found myself puzzled that I could not answer this question. Had I stopped dreaming? Did I lack a sense of purpose? What had happened to my goals?

The first time the question appeared, I was thumbing through an old journal, I had jotted the question in the margin of a page, in quotes, obviously having just read it somewhere. Further down the margin were a few answers scrawled in tiny, almost illegible print. I squinted at them and saw 1) travel more 2) live abroad 3) ride a bicycle again.

Well, two out of three isn’t bad . . . I have been living abroad for almost exactly 2 years, and taking advantage of my new locations to travel and explore. The bicycle thing hasn’t worked out so well. although I bought a used bike this Spring, the combination of knee problems and a lot of time passing since I last rode a bike (more than 15 years) have conspired against me. After taking a pretty bad spill my second time out on the bike, I rather lost enthusiasm, and courage, for it.

So, realizing I had at least attempted everything on the list, I felt pretty good, and thought, OK what’s next? I drew a blank. I put it out of my mind until a week later, when the question popped up again, in an article I was reading. I stopped to ponder what my new answer would be. Again I drew a blank. Quite odd for me . . . slightly disturbed, I set the puzzle aside.

Then 3 days ago, there it was again, in a book I was using to teach an English lesson. Following the lesson I took myself to a cafe and ordered a cappuccino, got out my notebook, and tried to answer the question. A dozen things eventually came to mind, but none of them satisfied me. I realized that they were all old goals, things I had once wanted but outgrown in some way, as I lived my life. It occurred to me that reaching goals is a tricky business . . . I’m living the life I chose and I like it a lot. In essence I am doing ‘it’ – the thing I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail. Wow.

I still feel I would like to be able to answer the question again, but perhaps my understanding of the question has changed. Perhaps the new question is “Since I cannot truly fail, as long as I make an honest attempt, what I am going to do next?”

© Paula Swenson 2008
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  1. More travel and less work… but life is good.

  2. lol, this is about the 4th time recently for me… got to get the list started again

  3. It’s the universe knocking on your door, Anne 🙂

  4. beautiful words, and thoughts! so proud of you, I hope you receive all the blessings you can handle. and remember, Paula, you will “always have enough”… what more do we need? xoxo

  5. Thanks Brandy, enjoy your enough on your new path!

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